As I looked at the date today I couldn’t believe that it was only the second Tuesday of 2024. We are barely one week into this new year and it seems as if so much has happened. Within the past two days, I have had two friends pass back to back. Then to hear from another widow friend that they also just had a friend pass was shocking. I never used to think much about death until Erik. And now anytime there is a death of someone I know or I even hear of a death it takes me right back to March 17, 2022. And it takes me back to where the thought lingers more than it normally does. Every single detail replayed in my head as vividly as if it just happened. It’s moments like this where I am still so surprised as to what my reality truly is. It’s a moment of just shock that I’m in this body. In this situation and this is life now. That shock then turns to sadness. Sadness not only for me and what I’m missing now and sadness for Erik and what he is missing, but most of all sadness for our twins and this situation that they never asked for or deserved.
Most days I like to think that I’m “okay”. I stay in survival mode and I go minute by minute, day by day. I try to focus as much on the present as I can so I don’t fall apart. But those days where this situation affects my kids, are the days that feel as if someone just knocked the wind out of me. With the twins getting older I brace myself for those questions about dad. But I don’t think anyone can ever be fully ready for those types of questions. The twins have started to ask a lot more lately about Dad. This past weekend was the first time I felt like I’d had a conversation about Dad with them that was longer than just a question here and there. This conversation lasted almost 15 minutes. As I was prepping them to go out Wyatt asked, “Where is daddy, mama?” Which prompted Charlotte to ask, “When is daddy coming back?” As I was caught off guard by the questions Wyatt looked me in the eyes and holds my face and says, “I want to give daddy a hug mama, I want to give him a hug.” And he starts crying. Not the whining type of crying but the crying where tears are coming from his eyes as he looks for me to solve this problem for him. A problem I can’t solve. And that breaks my heart even more than the question itself. This back-and-forth conversation with both of them continues to go on much longer than it ever did in the past. Is Daddy in the sky? Why? Is he in an airplane? Is he working? Is he coming back soon? Daddy will be back soon, mama? Why? Why? Why? Those “why” questions cut deep into my heart as I think to myself I wish I knew why too my babies. As I’m crying trying to figure out what to say to them, they touch my tears and ask why I’m crying. And in that moment all I wish was that I could bring him back if even just for a minute for them. Yet all I could find myself saying was “I’m sorry that you’re sad and that daddy is not here, I am here for you always.” And I kissed them. A conversation I never thought I would have to have with our three-year-old twins. How do I explain something like this when they still can’t fully understand or comprehend the situation yet? Reflecting later that day I realized I still don’t know how to answer those questions. I’m trying to be careful with the words I choose as they might frame the way they think of the situation and their dad, but also being truthful yet age-appropriate in my explanations. These are the moments where I wish I had my co-parent back, but then we wouldn’t be in this situation now, would we?
As the weekend came to an end I was hopeful that it would be a little while longer until they brought Dad up again. But I was wrong. And even with time to reflect it still caught me off guard. As I was prepping dinner last night I started listening to this full-blown conversation that the twins were having. Most of it being mumbles here and there but then something about Dad was brought up and all I heard Charlotte saying to Wyatt was, “Daddy’s not coming Wyatt.” And just like that, my heart broke even more. Because it’s true. As much as I didn’t want it to be. But to hear it from my three-year-old daughter was not something I expected. Fast forwarding a little later into the evening Wyatt comes to me while playing and randomly says, “Mama, I’m sad.” So I proceed to ask why. “Because I want daddy,” he says. All I found myself saying to that was I’m sorry. “I want Mama and Daddy, I’m so sad,” he continues. And that moment I looked at my child and realized there was nothing I could do to fix this problem for him. So with a heavy heart, I pulled them close to my chest and held them as tight as I could.